North Bay Wine Tours answers an important question in their feature on Best 5 Sparkling Wine Tastings in Sonoma, “Did you know that sparkling wine isn’t just for special occasions anymore?”
We heartily agree!
They go on to say that California sparkling wine is just right for a fun wine country tasting. That’s never been truer than now, with a wonderful collection of sparkling wine houses in Sonoma County.
A couple of decades ago, before I knew we would end up creating the first sparkling winery in Healdsburg, I was frustrated. I love sparkling wine and the sparkling wineries I visited didn’t offer a sparkling flight.
Many wineries that make sparkling wines also make Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, because those are the two traditional grapes used to make Champagne and sparkling wines. The tasting flights would usually have a mix of each. I just wanted to taste bubbles!
That’s why since we made our first sparkling wine in 2008, it’s been my aspiration to offer a sparkling flight here at Amista. It turns out that it’s a lot easier said than done. First, you must consistently make more than one sparkling wine. You can’t have a “flight” with just one wine!
We made our first sparkling wine - from an unusual variety, Syrah - in 2008. We kept it a bit of a secret because we only made a few dozen cases, and we clearly didn’t have enough to offer a sparkling wine tasting flight.
In 2011 we started making our second sparkling wine, a Blanc de Blancs from a more traditional variety. A Blanc de Blancs, ours included, is typically made from Chardonnay grapes. Our first Blanc de Blanc scored 91 points and was awarded a gold medal at the Best of the Best North Coast Wine Competition. Our sparkling wines were no longer a secret, but we still didn’t have enough to offer a sparkling flight.
Then in 2013, we went all out and added three more sparkling wines to our collection. In 2014, we had enough sparkling wines to launch the first sparkling wine club in Healdsburg. That was another of my pet peeves – some so-called sparkling houses didn’t have a sparkling-only wine club.
I thought surely now we would have enough sparkling wines to offer our guests a sparkling flight. I couldn’t wait! But I had to wait and I’m not that patient. It wasn’t until 2016 that we consistently had enough bubbles to offer a sparkling flight.
Then I discovered there was good news and bad. The good news was that our sparkling wines were wildly popular and started selling out before the next release. The bad news was that there were times during the year when we only had two sparkling wines available. Two wines do not make a sparkling flight!
My challenge was to learn to juggle, balance and shift things around to make sure we have enough bubbles for our loyal sparkling club members and at the same time have enough sparkling wine for sparkling flights and for bubbles lovers to purchase in the tasting room.
We are working hard to craft new sparkling wines and make more of our current offerings so we can continue to delight our sparkling loving guests. We now have five sparkling wines in our portfolio, Sparkling Syrah, Blanc de Blanc, Sparkling Grenache, Sparkling Mataró (100% Mourvèdre) and Fusión (a blend the color of a Blanc de Noir).
In February 2022 we will debut Sparkling Tres, a sparkling rosé made from Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. We made only 73 cases for the first release, which will be allocated to our sparkling club members.
Sparkling Tres is so delicious that my goal is to make enough so more people can discover this sparkling rosé crafted from the grapes that make up a classic Rhône-style GSM (Grenache, Syrah Mourvèdre) blend. This is a unique sparkling blend.
I always say that our winemaker, Ashley Herzberg, and I make sparkling wines for ourselves, but we’re delighted to share. In fact, that is one of my joys, to introduce sparkling lovers to wines made from non-traditional grape varieties. Our focus is on Rhône varieties because that’s what we grow.
Our sparkling wines are all grown on our estate vineyards, which we named Morningsong, in the heart of Dry Creek Valley situated in the beautiful countryside surrounding Healdsburg, California. Growing our own grapes allows us to farm and harvest them specifically for sparkling wines.
Although we use non-traditional grapes, we use the traditional method to craft our sparkling wines. The Methode Champenoise is the process used to make the finest French Champagne. What distinguishes this method from other ways of making sparkling wines, is that the wine goes through a second fermentation in its own bottle. It is this secondary fermentation that makes the wine “sparkle” and creates the delicate stream of bubbles ascending in the glass.
When you visit Amista, we want you to have a truly sparkling experience – delicate bubbles ascending in your glass, delicious sparkling wines made from unique varieties, in a relaxed and friendly environment. You can choose to sit under our solar covered patio or under the trees, surrounded by vineyards and gorgeous Dry Creek Valley views or in our rustic, festive barn. In addition to our sparkling flight, we offer a Taste of Amista with a wonderful collection of red, white, and rosé wines. And did I mention we’re dog friendly?
We invite you to make a reservation to Taste with Us!
Check out the Best 5 Sparkling Wine Tastings in Sonoma (plus other great options for wine tours in Sonoma
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